Stir Crazy: A trio of recipes for October, plus help might be closer to home than one reader thinks

News-DemocratOctober 14, 2013 

OK, I admit I swiped this request for a recipe from Julie Rothman, who is a food writer for the Baltimore Sun. I was surprised to see Belleville mentioned in her Recipe Finder column and thought perhaps our readers could help out. Here's the recipe request as it appeared in the newspaper:

"Greg Brown from Belleville, Ill., is looking for the recipe for a cookie that his grandmother made when he was young. It looked like a small white pillow and was basically inedible unless it was dipped in hot coffee. He thinks his grandmother may have used a springerle rolling pin or mold to make the cookies, though they did not have a licorice flavor like a traditional German springerle cookie."

Anyone out there closer to home who can help Greg? If so, give me a call or email.

Fast recipe: Here's how to make Pork Chops With Apples and Sauerkraut: Saute some slices apples in a bit of melted butter. When they start to soften, remove and set aside. In the same skillet, brown lightly breaded pork chops on both sides. Return apples to the pan along with a few cups of lightly drained sauerkraut and about 1/2 cup of apple juice. (If you've got caraway seeds, add a teaspoon.) Put the lid on the pan and let simmer for about 15 minutes.

Janet K. Keeler, food writer, Tampa Bay Times

Bacon, Ranch and Chicken Mac and Cheese sounds like it could be the most fattening thing you could have for dinner, but Cooking Light scales it back so that it's about 495 calories per serving. Low-fat ingredients, plus smaller portions lighten it up. Serve with a green salad. The kids will love it.

Bacon, Ranch and Chicken Mac and Cheese

8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni

1 slice applewood-smoked bacon

8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups fat-free milk

1/3 cup condensed reduced-sodium, fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded six-cheese Italian blend (such as Sargento)

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill

1/8 teaspoon salt

Cooking spray

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Colby-Jack cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon, reserving drippings in pan. Finely chop bacon and set aside.

Increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken to drippings in pan and saute 6 minutes or until done.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; sprinkle flour evenly into pan. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk.

Combine milk and soup, stirring with a whisk; gradually add milk mixture to saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; let stand 4 minutes or until sauce cools slightly.

Add Italian cheese blend, onion powder, garlic powder, dill and salt, stirring until cheese melts.

Stir in pasta and chicken.

Preheat broiler. Spoon mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with reserved bacon and Colby-Jack cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Serves 4.

Still have eggplant and red bell peppers in your garden? Try this easy recipe.

Eggplant Lasagna

1 pound eggplant

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup prepared basil pesto or fresh (recipe below)

8 ounces fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced

1 medium red sweet pepper, cut into slices

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Slice eggplant lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices. Brush slices with olive oil. Place in skillet and heat over medium heat until soft. Remove from skillet and place in dish.

Spread on pesto sauce. Cover with Mozzarella cheese slices. Add red pepper slices. Repeat layering with eggplant slices, pesto sauce and red pepper slices. Sprinkle on Parmesan cheese. Bake in oven 20 to 25 minutes until cheese is melted.

Serves 4, each with 397 calories, 18 grams protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams fat, 207 mg sodium, 549 mg potassium.

Betty Wedman-St. Louis, nutritionist and environmental health specialist, special to the Tampa Bay Times

Here's how to reach me: Phone, 239-2664; e-mail, sboyle@bnd.com; or write, Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

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